Today, Tuesday, September 25th, the Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”) and the Town of Middletown partnered together to successfully acquire a perpetual Conservation Easement from the Corey and Sears families on 28.69 acres of the strategic Corey/Sears Farm, located next to other previously conserved lands and the Maidford River, on Wyatt Road in Middletown.
The Corey/Sears Farm has many important conservation values. It is contiguous with the Maidford River and provides a natural buffer that helps protect this important Aquidneck Island waterway from harmful runoff. The property was identified as a Priority Conservation Area in the Aquidneck Island Partnership’s 2000 study entitled Critical Parcel Identification for Watershed Protection in Newport County, Rhode Island and other watershed studies such as the 2011 study that the Aquidneck Land Trust completed with Salve Regina University and Roger Williams University. The farm is also strategically contiguous with other conserved lands within the Sakonnet Greenway thereby building upon and enhancing this past conservation work. The land contains United States Department of Agriculture recognized Prime Farmland Soils and Additional Farmland of Statewide Importance Soils and is thus an important part of the agricultural activities and resources of the area. The Corey/Sears Farm is located in Middletown’s main farm-belt area with other nearby farms such as Newport Vineyards, Sweet Berry Farm, Easy Street Farm, Hoogendorn Nurseries, Commonwealth Farm, the Webster Farm, and the Ventura Farm. The Corey/Sears Farm affords scenic vistas to the residents of Wyatt Road and passersby on this public roadway. Furthermore, the land will provide scenic vistas to the future users of the newest segment of ALT’s Sakonnet Greenway Trail, Aquidneck Island’s longest public nature trail, when this final segment is completed this fall. The property also provides wildlife habitat for various wildlife species such as the Northern Leopard Frog and Barn Owl.
Engineers have demonstrated that if this property was not conserved, it could have been turned into a 13-lot residential subdivision. Such a development would put more demands on Middletown for supporting municipal services, change the character of the scenic Wyatt Road area, increase traffic, and harm the conservation values of the property. The Conservation Easement acquired today for $500,000, with $300,000 contributed by ALT and $200,000 contributed by the Town of Middletown, permanently extinguished the development rights of the Corey/Sears Farm which threatened the farm’s conservation values.
“The Aquidneck Land Trust applauds the Corey and Sears families and the Town of Middletown for coming together with us to protect this strategic farm. We helped one another, and positively leveraged our limited resources, so as to permanently protect a critical part of Aquidneck Island’s green infrastructure for the lasting benefit of the community,” said Ted Clement, ALT’s Executive Director.
“My family has farmed the property since about 1939, and my parents would be pleased to know that it will remain farmland and open space,” said Mary Corey on behalf of her family.
The Middletown Town Council President, Art Weber, stated, “The citizens of Middletown have consistently and enthusiastically supported open space bonds for projects that the Corey/Sears property represents. The partnership with the Land Trust is important because it allows us to pool scarce resources for the common good of our community. This property is important for the health of the watershed and will border the new trails being built by the Land Trust. All win on this one!”
ALT’s time-sensitive mission is to conserve Aquidneck Island’s open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of our community. With today’s closing, the organization has conserved 2,415.19 acres on 67 properties across Aquidneck Island since its founding in 1990. ALT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and the first land trust in Rhode Island to have received national accreditation. For more information, visit www.AquidneckLandTrust.org.